The estate of former Michigan resident Jack Kevorkian recently settled with a museum over the ownership of artwork painted by notorious doctor. Having a trustworthy executor who can solve legal disputes such as these during estate administration is important.

The dispute arose when the estate sued the Armenian Library and Museum in Watertown, Mass. for the return of 17 paintings. The estate claimed that Kevorkian loaned the paintings to the museum. The museum countersued and claimed it owned the artwork. According to the estate’s executor, the agreement allowed the museum to keep four paintings. The museum will return the remaining 13 paintings to the estate for the benefit of Kevorkian’s heir, a niece living in Troy. The paintings, valued at greater than $2 million, feature disturbing images. Some were reportedly made using Kevorkian’s blood.

Kevorkian died in 2011. He entrusted the paintings to the museum in 1999 before his sentencing in his assisted-suicide trial. He served eight years of a 10-to-25 year sentence before his parole in 2007. Before his death, Kevorkian said he wanted the artwork returned to Michigan and his niece, according to the executor of Dr. Kevorkian’s estate. The estate plans to offer the paintings for sale at art galleries after they are returned.

Having an executor with an understanding of the deceased person’s legal rights and wishes is important when these types of issues come up. Taking the step of naming a trusted and informed executor helps to better ensure that one’s final wishes regarding their estate will be fulfilled.

Source: The Detroit News, “Deal reached on $2 million in Kevorkian artwork,” Mike Martindale, Oct. 5, 2012

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